Reflection on the Process of Building a Portfolio for the MSEd:IT at WOU
By Stefanus Ch. Relmasira
October 7th, 2011
Creating a digital portfolio as an exit requirement for MSEd in Information Technology is the most challenging project that I have ever done in my life. During the process of creating it, I utilized all the technology skills I have learned. The main tool that I used to create the portfolio is a website creation software called Muse (a code name) from Adobe. In this reflection, I would like to share some challenges and some fruitful learning experiences and also to share some pros and cons of creating a website by using Muse.
During the process of creating this portfolio, there are many challenges that I faced but those challenges were the stepping-stones to the process of achieving deeper understanding and sharpening digital literacy skills. Those challenges were some of the most fruitful learning experiences that I have never had before. My skills in creating and designing a website are increasing significantly. I also learned advanced skill in designing and manipulating images by using adobe Photoshop. The process also give me a chance to learn how to use adobe flash to create animation even though I decided not to use them in my portfolio for several reasons. The process of learning to create websites also helped me to understand some essential HTML code which is useful for embedding a website within a website, embed videos, and so on.
This portfolio was created by using a beta version of a new website creation software called MUSE (a code name) from Adobe company that, when I first started the process, had just been released on August 15th, 2011. This new software has some strengths and weaknesses that I will discuss in this reflection. The description of its pros and cons are described as follows:
The Pros of using Muse:
• You do not have to care too much about HTML code because it has a drag and drop interface just like what you may find in wix.com
• Muse is really useful in organizing your content or files. The plan tool will save a lot of your time to plan your website. (see figure 1.)
• You can create several themes for your pages by using master pages that can easily apply to all your sub-page designs by dragging and dropping the master page.
• It has auto recovery system to prevent you from loosing your data because of a system crash or freeze and it can load the latest event of your work.
• You can use HTML code in order to embed your video or multimedia, even a flash file. You can also embed a website if you know the correct HTML code for that.
• You can host your website in any website hosting service. There are several preview modes that you can use to check your website. You can preview in a browser while you are working in Muse.
• The design and interface is beautiful and easy to use. (see figure 2.)
The Cons of using Muse:
• If you are familiar with Dreamweaver, you may find out that Muse has significant limitations. One of them is that you cannot insert an audio or video directly to Muse to be played offline. All multimedia should be embedded from a third party, which means that the viewer must be connected to the Internet in order to view any multimedia.
• There is a very limited selection of widgets available
• Sometimes you may find some glitches when you try to preview your website; the master pages may be applied in the wrong place. Thus, you have to restart the software again to fix the problem.
• The software crashes or errors are annoying that you have to force quit the software and restart it again. If it happens more than one time then it will be very much annoying. This is because it is still a beta version.
• Not all HTML code in adobe flash or Dreamweaver work in Muse. You have to export your website as HTML then edit them with Dreamweaver in order to fix that.
• Sometimes you may find out that the website is not compatible with one of your browsers. What I found was my website looked terrible in Safari but it looks good in other browsers.
• There are no templates or examples available. Therefore, it will be difficult for beginners.
Based on those pros and cons, I would like to share some tips that you need to know if you are planning to create a website by using Muse. These are:
1. Always install the latest version of Muse because usually it will fix many bugs and errors. You can download the latest software in the official website here: http://muse.adobe.com/
2. You will probably have difficulty in finding tutorials in YouTube because it is still a new program and not many people are using it. However, you can visit the official website to check the video tutorials or you can check the tutorial here: http://muse.adobe.com/learn.html . There are many videos available and also conferences that you can attend for free. I recommend you to watch all the videos they posted. I found out that those videos are helpful.
3. If you have problems or questions, which you cannot find the answer in the video tutorial, you can seek the solution in the Muse forum in the support page of the official website. Many times I found out that there are some people who had the same problems as me. If not then you can just post your questions or problems in the Muse forum here: http://support.muse.adobe.com/muse Based on my experience, I posted my problem there then on the next day I got a useful respond from someone.
Those are the pros, cons, and some tips that I could share in this discussion. In general, this beta version has many weaknesses that Adobe should address before they release the version one in the early of 2012 which is unfortunately not free. However, Adobe has done a good job in creating a simple website creation software. It is an innovation in technology that I expect to see to be better in the future.
Reflection on the MSEd:IT Program at WOU
By Stefanus Ch. Relmasira
October 7th, 2011
Before I came to United States, I taught some subjects at Satya Wacana Christian University in Central Java, Indonesia. Specifically, I taught college students in the program of Elementary School Teacher Education and Training. My teaching expertise was in English and technology in education. I had experience in teaching some subjects at the same program online. The teaching experience that I had was the stepping-stone to getting a scholarship from United States Agency for International Development in Indonesia.
I chose MSEd:IT at Western Oregon University because this program provides many interesting and up to date subjects in Education Technology with the Hybrid learning method that I could not find in most of universities in the United States. I am very glad that I learned many things in this program. All the elective and required courses provided are very interesting and useful for me. The education core subjects changed my perspective about education especially in standardized tests, high stakes testing and other current issues in education. With the combination of content courses provided such as Big Thinker’s class, Web 2.0 tools, Emerging Technologies class, Media Literacy, and etc. specifically increased my understanding about the issues in Education technology and helped me to know how to utilize technology to increase effectiveness and efficiency in teaching and learning.
After I go back to my country Indonesia, I have a big dream that I want to accomplish in the future. I really hope that I can build a school that focus on students’ creativity and talents instead of focusing on rote memorization and practice for standardized tests. Students will mostly do project based learning with technologies in their learning process. This school will help students embrace their potential as a unique individual with their own talents and abilities to function well in society and to be leaders utilizing their own expertise in society. This may sound impossible, but my training in this program gave me the skills, knowledge, and confidence to believe it is within my reach.
I believe that without help and supports from many people I would not be able to complete my study well. Therefore, I would like to express my huge gratitude to my advisor Mary Bucy for her time, guidance, and support that she has given to me. She is the best advisor and professor that I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. I also want to say thank you to my mentor Jonan Donaldson for helping me a lot in the process of creating the portfolio and for being a good friend who encouraged me a lot in the process of learning in this program. I also want to thank my sponsor USAID and IIE for providing me an opportunity and support to study in US. I also want to give my special thanks to Dale and Liz Halligan for your prayers and encouragements. Finally, I would like to say thank you to my mother Tri Astuti E. Relmasira, My father Alexander N. Relmasira, my fiancée Nohel Yemima, my brother Benjamin Relmasira and all of my families and relatives in Indonesia for their prayers, encouragement, and support. I love you all. God bless you
Last but not least I would like to add my personal note and give my infinite gratitude to Jesus Christ, my God and my savior for giving me such a wonderful miracle to study in United States to pursue my Master degree at Western Oregon University. I believe that it is part of God’s plan in my life to prepare myself to be the channel of His blessings to many in Indonesia. I believe that all the learning process, miracles, challenges, happiness, sadness that I experienced during the process of my study here are part of His training not only to increase my knowledge, but also to build a strong character in God for the glory of His name. All things that happen in my life are only by His grace.
There are many artifacts in this portfolio, so many in fact that we may not be possible to pay attention to all of them. Therefore, I have collected on this page the artifacts which, upon reflection, I believe best demonstrate the mastery of educational technologies I acquired in my studies at Western Oregon University's Master of Science in Education: Information Technology program. These are my masterpieces.